It’s often the case that “good” Sales people are promoted to Sales Management. I personally know of only one exception where a “good athlete” manager (who was the Purchasing Director) was promoted to become a Sales Manager. I myself graduated from selling to Sales Management (Click here for the story about how I became a top performing Sales Manager).
Are you are Sales MANAGER, or are you a Sales MAN-ager?
CRM has had a huge impact on executive perceptions about what it really takes to manage sales teams. I credit CRM vendors for selling the benefits of CRM while minimizing the extensive planning and implementation effort that went into accruing those benefits. (Hence, the phrase, “Never confuse selling with delivery!”)
Because of this, I think that senior management and Sales leaders mistake what is done in CRM for sales management. Yes, you can monitor sales pipeline and activities in CRM, but what did you do to establish the fundamentals behind these outputs before you started using the tool?
I would argue that managing Sales has nothing to do with CRM at all. After all, there was Sales before there were computers and CRM tools. Certainly CRM helps you perform sales and management tasks more efficiently, but it’s only a tool. It’s not the endgame.
I am a big fan of Harvey Mackay. Recently, I had the opportunity to read his new book, “The MacKay MBA of Selling in the Real World”. The reason I like Mr. MacKay’s books (I have read or own most of them) is that I subscribe to his philosophies about belief, trust, confidence, and most of all, seeking out people as coaches. While I may never actually speak with Mr. MacKay or meet him face to face (one of my personal life goals), he plays an important role in my selling efforts:
Working with a variety of senior executives, sales managers and sales contributors on a daily basis provides me with many opportunities to observe how committed they are to success. What success means to me is that you must mind the details, communicate more exceptionally and do the extra work that makes the difference between average and top sales performance. It includes updating customer content and activities in CRM when you know that takes extra time and effort, always sending a brief but appreciative thank you message to a potential customer, or going the “extra mile” when a customer makes an unusual request.
CRM adoption is a real issue. One reason that clients bring me in is because they have challenges getting sales people to regularly input data or even perform consistent pipeline updates in CRM. I want to share some insights I have gained from addressing this dilemma, because I find that the real reason for this issue is not well understood.
In my experience, the CRM adoption problem typically is framed as sales people versus management. On one hand, sales people feel that CRM is a management tool used to micromanage their activities. The other side of the coin is management’s perception of sales people not being accountable, lacking discipline, and the expectation that CRM input is a “job responsibility”. In other words, the sales team must be pressured to do something that management believes they won’t do voluntarily.
The reality is that the problem is deeper than sales people’s perceptions of a conspiracy to handcuff them into doing management’s bidding. Instead of using a push strategy, managers should consider changing their perceptions about how sales people actually benefit from effective CRM adoption. I believe that at the heart of good sales management practices is the simple idea that Managers should communicate positively to motivate team members.